Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feminine Frankenstein

By Joe Anuta

It’s time to reanimate a centuries-old corpse — and this time, it’s a woman!

In “The Tragic Story of Dr. Frankenstein,” opening on Oct. 28 at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the doctor — and the creature she creates from dead bodies — will both be played by ladies, a drastic departure from the male-driven novel by Mary Shelley.

The switch-up is what Shelley might have wished for, since the book’s main subtext the patriarchal society of the 19th century, told through women who simply sit at home and write letters to adventuring alpha males.

But in the modern version, girls are on top (that’s no cheap pun, either, judging by these laboratory photos). Let’s just say that it’s no coincidence that the monster and Dr. Frankenstein are hot.

Not surprisingly, the gender bend changed some of the central themes of the story. 

“The result was more about mothers, children, responsibility and the power of creation,” director Ed Elefterion said.

The company, Rabbit Hole Ensemble, will explore the story of Frankenstein for an entire year. This month’s show will be the first of three, and told entirely from the doctor’s point of view. The next show will be from the curvaceous monster’s point of view, and the last show will juxtapose the two. Elefterion said getting the same story from two different perspectives will provide a complete understanding of the story — just make sure to buy all three tickets.

Such a long commitment might be unconventional for a small theater company without a patron, but in 2007, Rabbit Hole earned wide acclaim for a year-long cycle of three plays about the ghoulish German vampire, Nosferaru.

This year, the company will delve into the central themes of “Frankenstein” — creation and responsibility — which are more relevant today than in Shelley’s time, said Elefterion. 

Technology has given society the power to clone animals and conceive babies in test tubes, but has also given rise to debates about whether it is morally right to do so.

“Mary Shelley’s fantastic dream from the early 1800s is a reality,” he said. “It has immediate relevance.”

“Tragic Story of Doctor Frankenstein” at Brooklyn Arts Exchange [421 Fifth Ave. at Eighth Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-0018], Oct. 28–Nov. 13 at 8 pm. Tickets $18 ($50 for opening night). For info, visit


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